HR professionals have had to put on a great many hats this year. Overnight, the HR function became involved in or even responsible for health and safety, remote work planning and logistics, organizational communications, and even the mental well-being of the workforce. And while we are entering 2021 with a better idea of how to handle things, HR is not likely to see much of a respite from these added responsibilities.
So, let us begin the new year with 10 suggested resolutions to help HR professionals keep up the good work in the days to come.
Self-care and more self-care
It’s a truism that we cannot look after others if we do not first look after ourselves. With the amount of work that's fallen to the HR function, HR professionals need to ensure that they themselves get a breathing space to manage their own stress every so often.
Take mental health very seriously
Risk professionals have recognized mental health as potentially one of the greatest workforce risks organizations may face in 2021, and there’s no more room to sweep it under the carpet or indulge in frivolous prejudices against it. HR professionals have a major role to play in helping to drive understanding and acceptance of workforce mental health.
Keep up emphasis on health and safety processes
COVID-19 fatigue has set in, and there is a vaccine around the corner. But we’re not out of the danger zone yet. With second or even third waves looming in some countries, and now the emergence of a new variant of the virus, HR professionals will have to keep their health and safety hats on a little longer.
Stay open to adjusting flexible working practices
It's clear by now that even though people miss the office, they also like the flexibility of being able to work from home, and the hybrid workplace appears to be a popular solution. But there's no one-size-fits-all model, and organizations have to stay flexible about flexibility in order to find the best approach for their own situation.
Ensure that managers are knowledgeable about flexible work
Often, the greatest barriers to flexible work are managers' concerns and hesitations, sometimes simply because they do not know how to manage their teams in a flexible model. HR will need to provide them with guidance and even training if necessary, so that they can succeed in the future of work.
Have a good working relationship with the IT team
HR and IT professionals have already had to put their heads together in 2020 to enable remote working for the entire workforce in a hurry. But even though most of the technological hurdles have been cleared by now, multiple aspects of remote and flexible work are still evolving, and there will continue to be quite some overlap between the two functions' areas of responsibility.
Polish the skills acquired in 2020
The upside of wearing many hats is that one learns to wear them well, and HR professionals assuredly had the opportunity to fast-track multiple skills as they rose to the occasion last year. Those skills will continue to be valuable, and it's worth setting aside a little time in 2021 to improve them further.
Keep training and development firmly on the agenda
In the chaos of 2020, L&D was often put on hold while other pressing issues were dealt with. But times of change and disruption are also when training and development become the most valuable. It's time to put L&D back on the agenda where it belongs.
Take the opportunity to advance diversity
Like L&D, the case for diversity was frequently placed on the back burner last year. But the exigencies of the pandemic also underscored how important it is to have empathy for diverse groups and the various challenges they face. In 2021, let's build this empathy even more securely into HR's policies, processes, and approach.
Always remember to put people first
Finally, 2020 underscored this: if the people in an organization are not safe, healthy, and cared for, the organization may as well close its doors. Companies that prioritize employees' well-being have historically always done better, and sure enough, those companies also came through the pandemic in the best shape and are best positioned for the year to come.